A muscle cramp is a painful spasm of your muscle. It's caused by a prolonged tightening of that muscle, leading to it being shortened. The spasm can last from a few seconds to 15 minutes.
You do not have any control of this spasm and the muscle often feels hard and painful. Muscle cramps, especially in the legs, are very common. The small muscles of the feet are also sometimes affected. The muscle may remain tender for up to 24 hours after a leg cramp.
Cramp often occurs as a result of using your muscles a lot. It is common in athletes, especially long distance runners, and tennis and football players.
Cramp often happens after you have sweated a lot. Sweat is high in sodium and loss of sodium upsets the way your muscle works.
It can also occur with repetitive movements, such as writing (writer's cramp). It can also happen when you lie in an awkward position (night cramp). Night cramps may wake you from sleep.
Relief from muscle cramp
You can relieve the
pain of muscle cramp by stretching and gently massaging the muscle. Grasp your muscle with one hand and pull back on your toes with the other to point the toes upwards. This helps to relieve the spasm.
Regular calf stretching exercises will often prevent leg cramps. See your doctor if you frequently get painful night cramps as quinine tablets may help.
Drink plenty of fluid before, during and after exercising or playing sport, and make sure you warm up properly before you begin.
NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice,
diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your
physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere.
If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.